Sonic the Hedgehog, right? Half the gaming population (if the console wars are to be believed) grew up with this fucker. He's a speedy bitch with attitude to boot. We all know him way more than we wish we did. I mean hey, we've all seen the porn, right?
Now I'm one of those Nintendo kids. I didn't touch a Sega console for more than 5 minutes until I was like 20 years old. That said, I still had some Sonic in my life when I was little since I had Sonic CD on the PC for some reason. I sucked at that game and my little anger fits as a kid led to me breaking the keyboard drawer of the family computer desk in the livingroom so I wasn't allowed to play it any more. So after that, I was a Sonic abstainer until adulthood. That meant that when I went back and got to experience his games for the first time, I had years of experience playing games of varying quality. I think because of this I learned to hate Sonic games. You see, I was a Mario fanatic. I grew up playing some of the best platformers to ever exist (and Sunshine) so I knew that Sonic's shit was wack. So I spent years saying that Sonic sucked ass and everyone that liked it was stupid or brainwashed by nostalgia.
Anyway, I'm a much older adult now and my idea of what makes a game good or bad is much more nuanced now. I'm still not a huge fan of Sonic's older 2D entries, but it's because I just understand what I like and what I don't like, and I know that they are good games that I just happen not to enjoy. Wild concept, huh? So here's where the weird opinions start then, huh?
I would say that it's generally accepted by the wider "gaming community," whatever the fuck that is, that Sonic Adventure is a bad game. It controls like shit, the voice acting and animations are laughably bad, the story makes no sense, and Big the Cat is a fucking weirdo. But despite all that, I have come to love this game. And not in the way that some People on the Internet (you know the ones) love it. I don't think it's an unappreciated classic that only has a bad reputation because the Game Grumps disliked it (yes, someone has said that to me). But I truly do think that this game is one that, if you have any interest in the concept of Sonic the Hedgehog at all, is worth playing. I'd go as far to say that it's required playing for anyone who even remotely likes Sonic.
I promise I say this for a reason. See, the thing with Sonic the Hedgehog is that he is not just video games. Sonic is the TV, movie(s), comics, music, everything. When you say Sonic the Hedgehog to two people, the chances of their first thought being a completely different media format or medium is astronomical. I think Sonic Adventure is the most Sonic the Hedgehog has ever been. I think it is the quinessential Sonic experience. It perfectly encompasses everything that is that little blue fucker, from the iconic music to the weird gameplay to the characters and their interactions with one another. It's jank beyond jank and yet as I played, with my feelings for the game constantly varrying wildly between love and disdain, I just got sucked into Sonic more and more (and not like you'd see on DeviantArt or FurAffinity).
I've always loved Sonic characters. They're all loveable morons in the best way. Any sure, some of that probably comes from community depictions of them but that's just how it goes. You cannot experience anything without the context of everything going on around it. It's just not possible. Sonic is asexual and aromantic, Rouge is queer as fuck and probably trans, and Shadow is gay. That's just how it is. And all of that shit was going on in my head as I played through Sonic Adventure fully for the first time.
I had dabbled here and there before, played the first few levels, got frustrated with how obtuse progression is, then gave up. But recently I streamed the full game, start to finish, and by the end I hated it. Like I've said before, it's janky as fuck. Everything is buggy and weird. It controls like shit. The story is weird and told in the worst way possible. The music is great but you only ever hear the first 30 seconds of any song before it ends up starting over again because of the way the cutscenes play out. It's a mess. But then, by the next morning after finishing the game, I fell in love. And really, it's all just because I started to realize why other people love this game.
Unless you're a weirdo, and a lot of people are, you understand Sonic Adventure is a bad game. On its own merits, as a video game, it is bad. But fuck me, dude. It's so good. I played through this game and just learned so much about Sonic as a piece of culture. I started to realize that even though this game feels like complete trash, it's still incredibly fun. It's like going on vacation with a bunch of friends. You love everyone involved! They're some of your closest friends! But holy shit will spending a week with them eventually get on your nerves. And wow, you're exploring a new place and experiencing all the things it has to offer! But everything keeps going wrong. The car keeps breaking down, you keep missing the train, the first hotel room had cockroaches, and you ran out of money half way through. By the end of the trip, you're sore, you miss home, and you're sick of everyone. But after you get home and recouperate for the next couple days, you realize it was a lot of fun. And in a few years, you'll probably remember it as one of the best times of your life. All the hardships just kind of fade into the background a little and you can laugh with everyone about when things went wrong. And you'll always, always cherish the memories you made.
For me, I've just finished recouperating. I don't think I could go back and play Sonic Adventure again any time soon, but I'm so glad that I did. And I know, years from now, when I look back at it and pick it up again, I'll be so much more forgiving of its flaws and I'll remember it as what it is: an absolute joy.